Bronze Spike
Product / ServiceAPPLE
CategoryA02. Fiction & Non-Fiction Film: 5-30 minutes
Idea Creation TBWA\MEDIA ARTS LAB Shanghai, CHINA
Media Placement OMD Shanghai, CHINA


Name Company Position
Brent Anderson Media Arts Lab Chief Creative Officer
JD Jurentkuff Media Arts Lab Group Creative Director
Stephen Kong Media Arts Lab Creative Director
David Seah Media Arts Lab Creative Director
Joey Chung Media Arts Lab Associate Creative Director
Gina Wang Media Arts Lab Senior Art Director
Alpher Xian Media Arts Lab Senior Art Director
Jet Aw Media Arts Lab Associate Creative Director
Ewan Yap Media Arts Lab Associate Creative Director
Amber Qian Media Arts Lab Associate Creative Director
Carrol Shen Media Arts Lab Designer
Juan Zhang Media Arts Lab Junior Art Director
Junyu Deng Media Arts Lab Designer

Why is this work relevant for Entertainment?

Apple’s emotionally engaging short film, The Bucket, moved billions in China during Chinese New Year—the country’s most important and cluttered cultural moment. They didn’t see The Bucket as advertising, they saw it as a piece of entertaining content that happened to be touching. Many shared the film and were inspired to share their very own stories on social as a result. This happened in spite of the growing nationalism and the heightened sensitivity to cultural issues in China. With The Bucket, Apple was able to create culture due to an insight that resonated deeply with China.


In recent years, Apple has been losing its luster in China. Local competitors and their offerings have started to overtake Apple’s long-held innovation leadership. Compounding the issue is the wave of nationalism that has engulfed China as the country became a global economic powerhouse. The result? A growing and unprecedented “anti-Apple” sentiment in China. With the US government’s continued threats of a trade war and playing a role in the arrest of Huawei’s CFO in Canada, conditions for Apple is unlikely to improve on its own in the short-term. Apple had to demonstrate that even though it’s an American company, it’s very much a global brand. One that understands its global consumers and their respective cultures, particularly in China—an extremely important market for Apple. It needed to turn the tide and re-build brand affinity during its most challenging time ever in this country.

Describe the creative idea

Directed by China’s beloved Jia Zhangke, shot entirely on iPhone XS, this is a story about a young man’s journey back to the city after the CNY celebrations come to an end. While other brands tackle the arrival of a CNY reunion, this emotional film focuses on the departure and the mixed feelings surrounding that moment. Excitement for the return to the city; guilt for leaving their parent(s) behind. The bucket of eggs represents something so common yet fragile, and the addition of sand is a touch that’s easily taken for granted—just like a mother’s love. The film aimed to inspire viewers to treasure and celebrate their parents’ love by way of food care packages and showcasing it on social media.

Describe the strategy

Apple has a relationship crisis with the Chinese, due mainly to the wave of nationalism. It needed to demonstrate that it understands China with CNY as the platform. China’s rapid development attracted a lot of young people to work in the cities which meant that the only time that families see each other is during CNY. However, the widening gap between urban and rural areas caused their lives to diverge. As such, Apple delivered its unique POV: no matter how different we become, humanity will always reconnect us. Towards the end of CNY, many parents extend their love with an overzealous gifting of food. Many kids would post photos of their overloaded luggage to complain. Apple tapped into this topical cultural tension and changed the conversation. What used to be a burdensome joke became love and pride. Thus bridging the gap between generations and celebrating the love of Chinese parents.

Describe the execution

Mirroring a typical film promotion campaign, it began with a teaser campaign on January 21 to drive consumer intrigue: a 15 second trailer all three of China’s biggest digital video platforms (Tencent, Youku, iQiyi), and a nationwide OOH blast in the form of movie posters. On January 25, Director Jia Zhangke met members of the media at the Wangfujing Apple Store in Beijing for the film’s premiere, an hour before it went live. Launch ads ran on TV, Cinema, TVO and various digital video platforms to push traffic to the campaign ecosystem. Additionally, it was promoted at Apple Stores, Apple Authorized Resellers, and on AppStore/Apple Music/iTunes. On social, posts of the CNY campaign were released on the official WeChat handle.

Describe the outcome

The Bucket resonated with the Chinese in a big way and swept the internet with 138 Million organic views in total. During the teaser stage, the intriguing film title immediately became the buzzword and was featured in news headlines. The film connected on a deep, emotional level and inspired the organic sharing of countless personal stories. Young adults were highly engaged and generated a huge amount of organic UGC content across multiple social platforms. It turned the campaign’s endline into a hot topic #thetasteofhomewillalwaysbringusback, garnering 1.7 Billion total views on China’s top short video platform, Douyin/TikTok.
Most importantly, there was a significant increase in brand affinity with an appreciation for Apple’s brand value of humanity and its deep understanding of Chinese culture.


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